April 15, 2021, 8:54 a.m. EDT

Facebook hits 100% renewable energy target early, still faces heat for climate-change denial on site

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Rachel Koning Beals

Global operations at Facebook are now supported by 100% renewable energy and have reached net-zero emissions, the social media giant said Thursday.

Facebook /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB -1.05% is one of the largest corporate buyers of renewable energy globally. It currently has contracts in place for more than six gigawatts of wind and solar energy, across 18 states and five countries. All 63 projects are new and are located on the same electrical grids as the projects they support, the company said. 

The next goal, a more challenging one, is to reach net-zero emissions for its value chain, known as Scope 3 emissions, in 2030.

Facebook’s role in mitigating climate change also comes down to what appears on its platform, say environmental advocates.

The company said earlier this year it will debunk recurring myths posted on its site about climate change, a move similar to the verified information push it has tried around COVID-19.

The update marked a shift in just a few months from when CEO Mark Zuckerberg last May defended unchecked speech from politicians on the platform. Zuckerberg said then that he didn’t feel “Facebook or internet platforms in general should be arbiters of truth.”

The company said in February it was adding a section  to its climate-change information hub  that will feature facts from George Mason University, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the University of Cambridge to identify and debunk misinformation.

But the screening method hasn’t lived up to its promise, according to some critics. And one challenge is the timeframe with which the company views climate-change risk.

There’s no “imminent” threat of real-world harm, for instance, as with election information, which is the threshold the company uses to determine whether a post containing allegations of misinformation should be removed from the service entirely or allowed to live there as opinion. 

Zuckerberg received  a letter  last month (an earlier letter was led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts), this time from 13 environmental groups including the Union of Concerned Scientists and Greenpeace, asking Facebook to commit to monitoring climate disinformation and releasing reports on climate-change information, among other steps.

Facebook said Thursday it ran a survey on its site in over 30 countries and territories, in partnership with the  Yale Program on Climate Change Communication

In each of the countries where it collected data, the company found that more than three-quarters of people believe that climate change is happening, but fewer understand it is caused mostly by human activities. More than 6 in 10 respondents in all countries said they want more information about climate change, Facebook said.

Shares of Facebook are up 10.8% in the year to date. The S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.07% is up 9.8% in the same timeframe.

Facebook has jumped 71% over the past year.

/zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 315.02
-3.34 -1.05%
Volume: 15.58M
May 5, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
26.95
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$902.70 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.47M
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/zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime
US : S&P US
4,167.59
+2.93 +0.07%
Volume: 1.76B
May 5, 2021 5:13p
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